By Javier Silas Omagor
Olympian and national marathon record holder Stephen Kissa, 26, will not compete on track again, with his last appearance set to be at the World Athletics Championships, Oregon, 2022.
The Kampala Sun has exclusively learnt that the 10,000m race on Saturday, July 16 will be his final leap of faith before he converts to full marathon.
“It is high time I moved on to something new. My decision is to fully convert into full marathon after Oregon,” Kissa disclosed.
This will surprise many athletics fans, in particular Kissa’s ardent followers, considering how good he has been on track.
Many will affectionately remember how Kissa set up Joshua Cheptegei and Jacob Kiplimo in 2021 for Olympic silver and bronze in 10000m, as a pseudo–pacesetter.
He created a huge lead ahead of the pack early on, and later dropping out with nine laps remaining.
Kissa later explained that he was attempting to create a fast-paced race.
“I could have gone ahead to finish as strong as possible in that race, but I was strategically deployed to pace by my coaches.
“When you are entered into the race as a pacesetter, you are equally instructed to drop or slow down at a particular stage and that is what I had to do,” he explained.
The prison officer got his opportunities to race to finish this year and whenever he has stepped on the track, Kissa has often finished in the medal bracket.
In the beginning of this season, Kissa won silver at the Barcelona championships in Spain in 10,000m.
In 2018, he finished eighth in the 5,000 metres at the 2018 African Championships. His personal best time on track in the aforementioned category is 13:10.93 minutes, achieved in July 2018 at Athletissima in Lausanne.
He has 7:54.32 minutes in the 3,000metres, achieved in July 2018 in Rabat. He won his last race of 2018 at the 15 kilometres roadrace Montferland Run in the Netherlands.
It is against this background that Kissa and his management team are beginning to appreciate his explosive exploits in marathon rather than on track.
In May 2022, Kissa was given his marathon debut and he surprisingly put up a stunningly solid performance to displace fellow Uganda Prisons officer Felix Malewa Chemonges who had held the bragging rights in the national marathon record.
Running in the German city of Hamburg, at the Hamburg marathon 2022, Kissa won a silver medal after ceasing the clock at 2hrs, 4 minutes and 47 microseconds (a national record).
Only Kenya’s Cyprian Kotut ran faster in a course record time of 2:04:47, after a thrilling sprint to victory.
“That felt good and I loved the way my body reacted. It gives me a good feeling that the marathon will be a fruitful venture as well,” Kissa stated.
The lad is talented and young enough for future success. Someday, surely one day, Kissa will win a gold medal for Uganda and that might likely happen in a marathon.
However, it could also happen at the World Athletics Championships this month since he will not be the pseudo-pacesetter, but rather a gold-minded competitor.
Kissa’s pending departure from the track will pave way for budding athletes such as Abel Sikowo, Dan Kibet and Rogers Kibet to cease the opportunity of filling the gap.
While his eminent entry to full marathon will boost Uganda’s 42 kilometre men’s squad that has the likes of Stephen Kiprotich, Jackson Kiprop, Fred Musobo, Felix Malewa Chemonges, and Victor Kiplangat, among others.